In terms of casting models, Prada (and its little sister brand, Miu Miu) may not be a pioneer in the way that say, Raf Simons is, as the Belgian-born designer quite famously started street casting his models from local Antwerp hang outs in the mid-1990's. The result was a noticeable shift in aesthetic; skinnier, younger, paler boys than the agency-represented models that we were accustomed to seeing. Prada is also not a Givenchy, whose creative director Riccardo Tisci, and his casting team, are known for embracing a diverse notion of beauty (think: an array of ethnically diverse models and transgender model, Lea T). Having said this, Prada is the design house that comes to mind when thinking of new faces, as the Prada runway is the ultimate launching pad for a successful career.
There is a pattern that follows models, who have landed prime placement on the Prada runway (read a lot more about that here) thanks to the house's famed casting directors. To give you a few examples, consider Daria Werbowy, Arizona Muse, Lindsey Wixson, and Sasha Pivovarova - all of whom went on to become top-earning "it" girls following their Prada debuts. In fact, Prada doesn't just produce models. Its stamp of approval produces fashion industry stars, arguably in a more frequent manner than just about any other design house.
Having said this, meet Mayka Merino, the Spanish model who opened the Italian design house’s Spring/Summer 2016 runway show. The 5’11” stunner, who is reportedly 16-years old, is sure to be the next “it” girl now that she nabbed one of the most (if not the most) coveted runway slots of the season. Interestingly, the Prada show was not her world debut. In fact, she walked in J.W. Anderson’s Spring/Summer 2016 runway show in London last week and in a number of shows in her native Barcelona after being discovered last year. According to Luis Berrios, a booker at Traffic Models, the agency that first discovered Merino: "It all started a year ago in a contest of new faces we organize." He continued: "Her outgoing personality combined with a modern and fresh look was what grabbed the attention of the brand."
More to come on Mayka soon. In fact, according to Berrios, she is en route to Paris for the Spring/Summer 2016 shows. He said he "can not reveal what shows she will walk in," though.
Other "it" girls from the S/S 2016 show to keep an eye on: Supreme's Pia Priewe and Elite's Victoria Kosenkova, who both walked as exclusives.